At Saban Forum |

Netanyahu: A Nuclear Iran Will Preclude Israeli-Palestinian Peace

PM says absence of peace is not the source of Middle East turbulence, citing the 'unprecedented' events of the Arab Spring.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

A nuclear Iran will preclude any Israeli-Palestinian peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday in a video speech broadcast to the annual Saban Forum in Washington.

The prime minister opened his speech at 5:15 P.M (10:15 A.M. EST) with thanks to U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their efforts toward peace.

He then spoke of the negotiations underway between Israel and the Palestinians, saying that the "unprecedented" unrest in the Middle East that arose during the Arab Spring "made clear that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the source of the area's turbulence."

"Peace with the Palestinians is vital," said Netanyahu, adding shortly thereafter: "The core of the conflict is not about borders and settlements, but about the refusal to accept Israel [as Jewish state]."

"I am ready for a historic compromise," the prime minister said, adding: "Achieving a genuine and enduring peace is an important goal of Israel and of its government."

Any agreement with the Palestinians will likely initially result in a "cold peace," Netanyahu said. Given the forces of terrorism and radicalism emerging from Iran and elsewhere, Israel must have "iron-clad" security arrangements in place to protect any peace that may emerge from negotiations.

Netanyahu made a connection between the peace negotiations and the possibility of Iran achieving a nuclear weapon.

"These efforts will come to naught if Iran achieves a nuclear bomb," said Netanyahu, because it would strengthen radical elements that oppose peace and would "even undermine the peace deals we have with two of our neighbors" - Egypt and Jordan.

When negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, the international community should include a demand "to change its genocidal policies", Netanyahu said, "It’s not just about Israel. Iran continues to trample the rights of its people and support the massacre in Syria."

The Saban Forum is an annual dialogue between Israeli and American leaders and is sponsored by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

This year's forum, which began on Friday, is titled “Power Shifts: U.S.-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East.” Other key speakers included Obama, Kerry and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Obama, who spoke on Saturday, said that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, and would have to be implemented in stages. Later, Kerry added that he and Obama remain determined "to ensuring Israel has the ability to defend itself, by itself."

Earlier Sunday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid stressed his personal commitment to the peace process and said the deadlock in talks imperils the governing coalition, though he stressed that he wasn't delivering an ultimatum. He explained that he was concerned at the defeatism permeating both left and right – which could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, Lapid said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, escorts General Secretary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Angel Gurria, left, before the weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, Dec. 8, 2013Credit: AP

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